Caves S. Joao, established in 1920, became a dominant force in Portuguese winemaking in the early 20th century with their houses Porta dos Cavaleiros in Dão and Frei Joao in Bairrada. Given the shifting trends in consumer preferences, Bairrada and Dão fell to obscurity in the 1990s when critical influence drove the demand for bigger, extracted, warmer climate wines. As in all things, however, what comes around goes around! Sure enough, 20 years later savvy consumers and food-conscious sommeliers are looking for finesse and freshness and heading back to Bairrada and Dão. In 2013, the Costa family, owners of the estate, decided to open their cellars and offer the old vintages in stock, ranging from 1959 to 2000. Quinta do Poço do Lobo, the 35ha estate in Pocariça, Cantanhede was acquired in 1972.
This is an opportunity to taste a perfectly aged, mature Bairrada, showcasing the capacity for longevity that this region is known for. A library release from the winery itself, with the bottles kept in pristine condition for decades, these wines show a complexity that cannot be derived in any other way.
The fruit for the ‘Poco do Lobo’ is harvested from vineyards in Bairrada. The region has a mild, maritime climate with abundant rainfall, which can make the rot-prone Baga a difficult variety to grow. 90% Baga, 5% Castelao and 5% Moreto
Open top fermentation occurs with extended skin contact. The wine is aged for 24 months in cement tanks.
The 1996 Reserva Quinta do Poço do Lobo is unoaked and comes in 13% alcohol. This bottle is impressive. It is very lush for a Baga-dominated blend, but the Baga provides typical earthiness and amber while the other grapes in the blend add a little flavour. Blackberry, died cherry and cocoa run along a dusty seam. Enlivening, its big acidity results in a juicy finish. Then, the tannins take over. This is in many respects still a baby, if a rather rustic one. It will easily last another 15 to 20 years.
Try with goose and roasted vegetables, roast pork with crackling or wild mushroom risotto